‘Straight Outta Comp­ton’ hits top of US box of­fice

The China Post - - ARTS - BY LIND­SEY BAHR

The boys f rom Comp­ton smashed open­ing week­end ex­pec­ta­tions, while the stylish “The Man From U.N.C.L.E.” strug­gled to find its foot­ing.

Uni­ver­sal’s N. W. A. biopic earned an as­ton­ish­ing US$56.1 mil­lion in its de­but, ac­cord­ing to stu­dio es­ti­mates Sun­day.

Di­rec­tor F. Gary Gray’s well­re­ceived film charts the for­ma­tion and rise of the in­flu­en­tial rap group. It cost just US$29 mil­lion to pro­duce.

N.W.A. mem­bers Dr. Dre and Ice Cube served as pro­duc­ers on the film, which has Ice Cube’s real son O’Shea Jack­son Jr. play­ing his fa­ther. Dr. Dre also re­leased the com­pan­ion piece “Comp­ton,” — his first new al­bum in 16 years.

Nick Car­pou, Uni­ver­sal’s presi- dent of U.S. dis­tri­bu­tion, said they were “elated” with the re­sults. Uni­ver­sal had pre­vi­ously pre­dicted a very con­ser­va­tive US$25 to US$30 mil­lion open­ing.

“It re­ally struck a chord with au­di­ences. It’s a story that is res­onat­ing right now,” said Paul Der­garabe­dian, Ren­trak’s se­nior media an­a­lyst. “It was one of those records that was an im­por­tant work and a very im­por­tant ex­pres­sion of a par­tic­u­lar view­point. To this day, that al­bum has so much power.”

Be­yond the fandom around N.W.A. and the time­li­ness of the themes, Uni­ver­sal also launched a clever mar­ket­ing cam­paign around the film, “Straight Outta Some­where,” which al­lows so­cial media users to in­sert photos in the iconic “Straight Outta Comp­ton” al­bum cover and write in a home­town of their choos­ing.

There have been over 5.4 mil­lion down­loads to date and it trended No. 1 across Face­book, Twit­ter and In­sta­gram for two days in a row.

“We’ve got the best mar­keters in the busi­ness and they un­der­stand their au­di­ences,” Car­pou said. “The good news here is it at­taches to a prod­uct that we’re ex­ceed­ingly proud of.”

Ac­cord­ing to exit polls, au­di­ences for the R-rated film were evenly di­vided be­tween gen­ders, 51 per­cent were un­der the age of 30, 46 per­cent were AfricanAmer­i­can and 23 per­cent Cau­casian.

Mean­while, Warner Bros. PG13-rated adap­ta­tion of the 1960s tele­vi­sion se­ries “The Man From U. N. C. L. E.” de­buted in third place, be­hind “Mis­sion: Im­pos­si­ble — Rogue Na­tion,” with a slug­gish US$13.5 mil­lion.

“I was hop­ing for a lit­tle higher num­ber, quite frankly,” said Jeff Gold­stein, ex­ec­u­tive vice pres­i­dent of U.S. dis­tri­bu­tion for Warner Bros. The goal had been a mod­est US$15 mil­lion. The pe­riod spy thriller will have an up­hill bat­tle to make up its US$80 mil­lion pro­duc­tion bud­get.

“(Di­rec­tor) Guy Ritchie made an orig­i­nal and fun movie. Eighty-six per­cent of our au­di­ence was over 25 and 39 per­cent are over 50,” he said. “Older au­di­ences, we all know, don’t rush out open­ing week­end.”

“The Man From U. N. C. L. E.” stars Henry Cav­ill and Ar­mie Ham­mer as a pair of Amer­i­can and Rus­sian agents in the fash­ion­able Cold War-era film.

Gold­stein noted that they weren’t able to at­tract a sig­nif­i­cant younger au­di­ence, who are likely not fa­mil­iar with the source ma­te­rial. The 7 per­cent who did turn out gave the film a fa­vor­able A- Cine­maS­core, and Gold­stein hopes that word- of- mouth will spread in the com­ing weeks.

Fox’s “Fan­tas­tic Four” plum­meted to US$8 mil­lion to take the fourth place spot, while “The Gift” took fifth with US$6.5 mil­lion.

But it’s Uni­ver­sal’s week­end to celebrate once more in what has be­come a ban­ner year for the stu­dio. Uni­ver­sal crossed the US$2 bil­lion mark in the U.S. on Satur­day — four months ahead of pre­vi­ous record-holder Warner Bros.

“Straight Outta Comp­ton” is Uni­ver­sal’s sixth film to open over US$50 mil­lion in 2015 and broke the Au­gust record for an R-rated open­ing.

“If you were to cre­ate a blue­print for how to per­fectly ex­e­cute a box of­fice year, they’ve done it,” said Der­garabe­dian.

Es­ti­mated ticket sales for Fri­day through Sun­day at U.S. and Cana­dian the­aters, ac­cord­ing to Ren­trak. Where avail­able, the latest in­ter­na­tional num­bers for Fri­day through Sun­day are also in­cluded. Fi­nal U.S. and Cana­dian fig­ures will be re­leased Mon­day.

AP

This photo pro­vided by Uni­ver­sal Pic­tures shows, Aldis Hodge, from left, as MC Ren, Neil Brown, Jr. as DJ Yella, Jason Mitchell as Eazy-E, O’Shea Jack­son, Jr. as Ice Cube and Corey Hawkins as Dr. Dre, in the film, “Straight Outta Comp­ton.”

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